A group representing 29 homeowners in Toms River’s East Dover section made a plea to township council members Tuesday night to increase code enforcement activity in their neighborhood.
The residents praised the township’s ban on real estate canvassers in their neighborhood, but said more code enforcement action is needed to curb the activities of aggressive land buyers from nearby Lakewood.
“Frankly, we risk becoming discouraged,” said Richard Schrumpf, of Badger Drive. “The enforcement system is confusing and lacks accountability. There seems to be an emphasis on process rather than results.”
Schrumpf said the neighborhood has seen an increase in foreclosures in recent years, and the township should be more aggressive in ensuring the properties do not fall into disrepair and lessen the values of neighboring plots.
Schrumpf asked the council to provide a list of common code violations online and through local media, and better educate residents on who to call if there may be a problem. In some instances, he said, township employees were unsure if a situation was, or was not, a violation of the code. The township, he said, should publish a sheet listing some of the codes, such as the level to which grass must be cut and if storage trailers are allowed on properties.
“I know they’re doing the best they can,” said Donald Fahringer, another Badger Drive resident, of township employees, but the focus of efforts should now turn from enacting ordinances to swift enforcement of codes.
Township Administrator Paul Shives said the procedure for reporting potential code violation is “fairly simple.”
“We respond on a complaints-made basis,” he explained. “You can e-mail, call, you don’t have to give a name, and it is recorded as it comes in and assigned to the correct department.”
Sometimes, Shives said, homeowners are dissatisfied that complaints turn out not to be violations of the law.
Still, he said, residents are encouraged to report allegations of code violations. Contact information is posted on the township’s website.